Doctor's Orders

We had our appointment with the midwives yesterday and they hooked me up to the fetal monitor and found that that the baby is doing just fine. Therefore, we continue to wait. The midwife recommended that I go for a long hike and climb some stairs, that we go out to a nice dinner, and have a glass of wine, and take a relaxing bath. So M whisked me away to the Strip District and we had a mini-vacation last night. You may know about our obsession with the beds at the Hampton Inn, so we stayed over night there. Before going to bed (really early, I might add), we went out to dinner at Lidia's - mainly because it was close, but the food there is actually really, really good.

We started with arugula salad and their seasonal squash special bruschetta, which was amazing. Mark ate their daily pasta trio special, and I had butternut squash ravioli in a butter sage sauce. We finished the meal off with an ice cream sampler which included plum sorbet, chocolate sorbet and this very interesting sweet potato gelati. I had my prescribed half-glass of red wine, and the whole meal was really enjoyable. Lidia's is a little fancy to be whipping out the camera for every course, we didn't take pictures.

In the morning, we did a little shopping in the strip district before heading home.

No contractions yet, but at least, as the midwives told us, if it doesn't induce labor, you've had a nice time.


I know you want to know...

...and thank you for not constantly hounding me about when the baby is coming.

I do not know the answer. It seems the women in my family may "cook" their babies a little longer. It will happen. Someday.

In the meantime, I'm watching some pretty ridiculous daytime tv (Ellen is my favorite, but we also have a channel that plays Rick Sebak specials from morning to night), playing the new Wii Fit game M just bought me, and taking lots of naps. My mom is also entertaining me. Today, we will go to the zoo to do some walking. I'm trying to keep up with my schoolwork, but my brain is a bit mushy right now.

My next midwife appointment is tomorrow. I'll keep you posted!


Harvard Beets

We got awesome vegetables from the market last week. Since we worked our way through all the greens, we started in on the roots. First, M roasted the carrots in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Then he decided to tackle Harvard Beets. Usually we just roast our beets plain, but to make Harvard Beets, you have to slice and boil them. Then you make a sauce of beet juice, sugar, vinegar and a little bit of corn starch. After it thickens you mix the beets into the sauce. It's very delicious and messy. We also had beans on toast. If you are not familiar with this dish, it is a British "delicacy" for poor college students - sort of the equivalent of ramen or mac-n-cheese. Anyway, they do sell the real Heinz beans (look for the ones in the blue can) at the Giant Eagle, but we just used the Giant Eagle brand organic Maple and Onion baked beans, which are much cheaper and very good. I would say this meal is not lacking in the vitamin department, but at the same time, the sugar content might be a bit high to actually consider it healthy.

Now she REALLY loves her new bed....

Rosie's New Bed

Rosie's been a bit weird lately. She's not much for change. Between Pete and Meg and Lucy moving out, and then us moving our furniture around, and getting a lot of new stuff in the house, she doesn't know what's going on. Rosie is not one for cat "stuff". She only likes one kind of food (Purina), won't play with toys, and prefers to sit on our clothes or blankets. But M bought her a little cat bed over the weekend, and I just coaxed her into it. It's called the Cuddle Bed. She seems to like it just fine. Hopefully this will keep her out of the bassinet!


Rosie isn't sure she wants to know what's in there...


Wild Things and Sundaes and Other Delicious Things

We went to see the much hyped movie Where the Wild Things Are last night and splurged the extra five bucks to see it in the Imax theater. As movies based on childhood books go, I would consider this one of the more difficult ones to adapt. If you recall, the actual words in the book are rather limited, and the illustrations are what really carries the story forward. The problem with watching movies based on beloved books is that the director's imagery often doesn't line up with what you had pictured in your head while reading. However, once I got over this, I really enjoyed Spike Jonze's interpretation. You can view the trailer and read about the movie here. I thought Max Records, who plays the character Max, did a fantastic job in the role of a wild, misunderstood little boy. The one thing that threw me was the personification of the wild things on the island. At first, I didn't like that they had names and voices. But by the end of the movie, I really saw the wild things as a reflection of Max's own personality and I think it really worked. The soundtrack is fantastic, as well.

After the movie we made a quick stop at Giant Eagle and made the most amazing ice cream sundaes with vanilla ice cream, hot toasted almonds, chocolate sauce and coconut. And whipped cream, of course. This balanced out our dinner, which was equally delicious in a different way. We sauteed collards greens in olive oil and Liquid Smoke. Maybe because the collards are really fresh, maybe it had to do with M using our new food processor to cut them into delicate, grass-like ribbons, but they were really delicious. We stayed up way too late - M playing Zelda and me wandering aimlessly around the house - but we slept in this morning until 11. We'll probably never do that again. M, upon waking, declared Sunday his favorite day of the week and proceeded to whip up some whole wheat, crepe-like pancakes, stuffed with stewed apples and topped with powdered sugar. Only one word could describe them...amazing.


Plans for the Weekend (?)

Well, plans in the loosest sense of the word. Our calendar has been emptying out over the last few weeks. I gave away my tutoring clients, ended my office hours on campus, and have been reluctant to commit to any dinner parties and the such.

But here's what I'll be doing this weekend...

1. Resting
2. Walking
3. Going to the Apple Festival
4. Watching the Steelers game
5. Having a baby (?)

I went to yoga last night and spent the entire time sending a meditative message to the baby to come out. We had our midwife appointment today and the baby and I are still very healthy, and no intervention is recommended at this time. They can do something called "sweeping the membranes" next week, if I am starting to get desperate. I'm going to trust that this little one knows when to come out, and I'll just wait for now.

The midwife did guarantee me that I will be pregnant for no longer than 15 more days. Somewhat reassuring. I guess. But later on, not one, but TWO women I know told me that they had their babies on the actual due date. I'm sure my readers are getting tired of these updates that are not really updates. But I can think about nothing else. And I don't have much energy to do anything very interesting.

Anybody have some good ideas for jumpstarting labor?



It's been kind of fun to walk around town the last few days and answer the question of "When is your baby due?" with "Saturday!" and then watch their jaws drop. My due date is October 24, which makes me about 39 and a 1/2 weeks pregnant. I got a free milkshake out of it the other day. Also someone at Trader Joe's took my groceries to my car and then took the cart and put it away for me. The guy at the beer distributor kind of freaked out when I came in...even though I insisted the beer was not for me. It turned out he just didn't want me to carry the case into my car and sent his stock boy out to bring it. Yeah, I know, pregnant lady buying beer...it looks bad - but I want to make sure there is at least one icy cold beer available to me after I give birth, so it's important to remain stocked.

I came down with a cold on Friday and it's mostly run its course, but I made the decision to limit my exposure to my undergrad students for the duration of this pregnancy, so I'm working from home. This ended up being fortuitous for a number of reasons, but mainly because we have some Indian Summer going on here in Pittsburgh and I've been taking long walks in the park.

So what's up with the 40 week gestational period? As a Caucasian female, the average pregnancy is actually over 41 weeks, especially in my age bracket. The formula for calculating due dates was calculated way back in 1850, long before ultrasounds and other testing were available, and is also based on the assumption that a woman has a very regular 28 day menstrual cycle. But most birth professionals agree that "normal" pregnancy lasts between 2 weeks before the due date and 2 weeks after. That's a month long window!! So hard to wait.

I am determined to not get antsy about this. I am trying to think of this time period as a gift from my child to me...a chance to take it easy and rest and reflect on the first 30 years of my life, because something tells me everything changes once I officially become somebody's mom. And frankly it's kind of fun to have the pregnancy card to play...nobody's going to criticize you for eating ice cream or taking two naps in one day. If only it didn't come with heartburn and hip pain and edema!


Nothing to do but Cook

As per usual, we got an assortment of delicious greens from the market on Friday. Those that were attached to our turnips got chopped up into little ribbon strips in our new food processor and sauteed with oil and a dash of Liquid Smoke. M was dreaming up some kind of pie to use up the collards, and I ended up using a modified version of the empanada dough from Veganomicon and M sauteed the collards slightly and mixed them with cottage cheese and a little bit of grated asiago. Empanadas, of course, are delicious, but M was disappointed that I tainted his low-fat, vitamin rich with pie dough containing half a cup of butter.

We had leftover filling, so I decided to make it into a quiche tonight, which actually was pretty healthy. I borrowed this idea for a potato crusted quiche from Liz. Ample amounts of vegan pancakes, courtesy of the vegan pancake mix that Rita dropped off last weekend, made a good side dish.

Potato Crust Quiche

For the crust, shred potatoes and drain off the water. I used the food processor, so this took approximately 1 minute to do. Toss them with a tiny bit of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and press into a greased pie plate. Bake at 425 for about 20 minutes. Take it out when it starts to brown and set aside.

You could put whatever vegetable you want in the quiche, but we spread the leftover filling. I highly recommend using low-fat cottage cheese if you are watching your calories and still want something cheesy.

I beat up about 5 eggs and a half a cup of milk and poured this over top of the leftover filling. Cook it at 425 for about 25 minutes until it was firm. Let cool slightly before slicing.


The Long Awaited Monkeys

You may have noticed that M and I have been a bit obsessed with monkey themed baby nursery items lately. Originally, we weren't even sure we were going to make a room for the baby. M took on a rather extensive, 4 color, paint job to transform the room that formerly belonged to Pete and Meg, who now have their own lovely house. If you know me, you might think it's rather hilarious how I currently react to teeny tiny baby clothing and nursery decorations. I chalk it up to the hormones. But the monkeys really are cute.

There are a few final touch ups to do...we want to frame some prints, and anchor a bookshelf to the wall, and M has to hang the blinds. It's definitely the most decorated room in the house now, and we have to admit that we are a little jealous of this kid, and vow to do our bedroom next. Thank you to everybody for helping out with putting this nursery together.

Good Citizens

This is what some of the good citizens of my neighborhood were doing on Sunday morning...cleaning up the yard next door since the current property owners have been rather negligent about it (apparently, their company is in bankruptcy, and so they have had little motivation to respond to the many complaints I filed with the city). Hopefully, the legal issues can be sorted out soon and somebody will buy the place. But out of a bad situation, comes the good feeling that our neighbors are people we can count on. A crew of volunteers showed up this morning to help M remove trash and mow down the long grass and weeds. Yard work in 40 degree weather is no place for a pregnant lady, especially a pregnant lady with a rather bad cold, so I just supplied the coffee and donuts for the work crew and snuck out to take a quick picture of their fine work.


That time of year again...already?

Summer really seemed to fly by this year. Now we are in the midst of a rather dreary and damp autumn. I actually really like this weather...it suits Pittsburgh and all of us Yinzers with a propensity towards melancholy. We can stay in bed through an extra snooze button or two, and curse our soggy jeans cuffs after stepping in the inevitable puddles in the crosswalks. Gray weather like this is how Pittsburgh was meant to be experienced, with friends running in from their cars through a steady, cold drizzle to watch a football game. It's about regretting not mowing your lawn one last time while it was sunny and dry a few weeks ago, and peeling layers of colorful, wet leaves off your sidewalk.

M and I finally turned on our boiler this week, so now our house is cozy and warm, and it smells like apple pie. Not from the boiler of course. It smells like pie because I just baked one with some delicious "seconds" Honey Crisp apples that we got from the market yesterday. We also got about 10 small eggplants, collard greens, turnips and sweet potatoes. Not sure what to do with all those eggplants, but the price was too good to pass them up. The farmers are stripping the plants since frost is in the forecast, so there was lots of cheap produce to be had.

And of course, we're Waiting For the Baby. My due date is one week from today. I want to remind everybody that the due date is an approximation of gestational age. My mother went past her due dates by many, many days, so I am mentally prepared for a Halloween baby. Or a November baby. Gulp. I tried to go for a walk today to speed things along, but it started pouring down rain as soon as I had finished the intense struggle of tying my shoes.

Anyway, it will happen. Eventually. In the meantime, I will be right here, taking lots of naps and checking my Facebook page way too often.


38 Weeks


The Goods

Little babies seem to require a lot of equipment. Car seats and bedding and sleepers and diapers. And that's not even getting into the extras like pacifiers and bouncer chairs and monitors.

I finally got my diapers yesterday. Yes, we are crunchy enough to try cloth. Cloth diapers are much more complicated than I remember from my early babysitting years. You can get a lot of diapers than look and operate in much the same way as a disposable diaper. I became overwhelmed rather quickly at all of the choices...not to mention the cost - some of these diapers are like $20 each! In the end, I decided to go with unbleached, organic Indian prefolds and Mark's parents bought us a set that theoretically should last through potty training.

I liked the prefolds for a couple of reasons.

First of all, they are the most versatile in terms of fitting on babies of different sizes. Because they are a basic rectangle, you can fold them and pin them in all different ways to accommodate skinny or fat legs, tall or short babies, etc. You can double them up for night, and put different kinds of covers over them depending on how, er, productive your kid is.

Secondly, prefolds seem to be the easiest to wash and they dry pretty quickly. I know this is the step that turns most people off, but it really doesn't seem that bad to me. All you have to do is shake off the poo into the toilet and stick the diaper in a waterproof laundry bag. Every other day or so, I'll dump the laundry bag into the washer, run through a rinse cycle, wash them on hot and hang them up to dry.

And of course, third, there is the cost savings. Even when you consider the additional expense of gas and water for the extra laundry, we should save about $1,500 on diapering one baby from birth to potty training. My diaper set came with covers, which are not those sweaty vinyl pull on pants you may be thinking of...they have velcro and seem pretty adjustable and breathable and have nice gussets around the legs. The set also came with 30 flannel baby wipes and a bottle of solution you can spray on the baby's butt to clean her up. So we won't even have to buy disposable wipes.

Lastly, there is the environmental impact. Cloth diapering is not a no impact solution by any means...we should always consider the impact of our gray water usage with the laundry. But I like the idea of not throwing a lot of stuff into a landfill. It's kind of like taking your own bags to the grocery store...it's not something that in and of itself would change the world, but if we all pick and choose a couple of environmentally-friendly actions that we can personally live with, it adds up. This is something I can live with.

I do have a set of newborn sized disposable diapers for the first week or so, and I can imagine buying them occasionally for travel or when someone else is babysitting. Or maybe when we all get sick at once and the laundry gets backed up and we have no food and have to order takeout and nobody is getting any sleep. That's when I'll be glad we live next door to the Walgreen's!


Final Weeks

M and I went to our appointment with the midwife today. I'm at about 37 weeks right now. The due date is set at October 24, which would be 40 weeks. "Normal" pregnancy lasts anywhere from 37 to 42 weeks.

Each week when we go, they check my blood pressure, weight, and urine, and listen to the baby's heart rate and feel around my belly to see her position. The midwife practice is pretty laid back, so as long as we both continue to be healthy, we won't do anything but wait for labor to begin. So don't ask me how dilated or effaced I am...they don't check that.

I tell you all this because 1) prior to getting pregnant I had no idea how inexact this stuff is and 2) so everybody knows that we could have as long as a month to go. I know we're all excited, but there could be a lot of waiting.

I will say that the baby has started to drop (a good sign). I took a very long walk yesterday and slept pretty well, although not enough. (It never feels like enough.)

M is so close to finishing the nursery and it looks awesome! I hope to post some pictures this weekend.


Breaking Bread

I believe sharing meals solidifies relationships. We go out to eat for dates and with friends. We share meals with family at important holidays. When I was growing up, we ate dinner together every single night...when busy high school sports schedules interrupted dinner time, I remember my mom or dad would at least sit with me while I ate a late night meal after a soccer game. Today we had the pleasure of Sunday brunch with Jack, where he cooked his best ever omelet and delicious pancakes. We roasted tiny red and yellow potatoes that M carefully picked out of the bin at the Co-op yesterday. I sliced up a giant, perfectly ripe, Honey Crisp apple. When bellies are full and a half a cup of coffee remains, you can sit without even talking, and get to know a person better.

Later Sarah came over for tea, which lingered into dinner time, and M served up gratin turnips and peanut butter spinach and Brussels sprouts. She brought with her a baby gift, a black and gold blanket that, yes, you are seeing that correctly, pierogies stitched into the edging. How awesome is that?!! Later on in football season, maybe after winter starts to creep into western PA, bringing with it snow flakes and early dusk, we'll have a little baby to wrap up in that blanket while we watch the games. But tonight, it was just M and me, lounging on the couch and eating peanut butter cookies.

I can't sleep. I have this weird tingling middle finger and jumpy legs. Anxious. Restless. It reminds me of Sunday-evening-before-the-first-day-of-school feeling. The baby is squirming around a lot. Rosie the Cat is on the prowl, chasing the bugs that were chased inside by the cool temperatures. I think it's a full moon. I brought in all the plants from the front porch and now our dining room has a tropical feel to it. I would do a little homework, but Pitt's stupid Courseweb site won't load. I wonder how many months it will be before I sleep all night again. I hope I'm not keeping M awake. It's so late that there are hardly even any cars going by outside, and the morning trucks haven't started yet. Now that the weather has cooled off, the late night motorcycle rides and races seem to have ceased. It's very peaceful in our corner of the city.

It's kind of making me sleepy. Nothing like late-night bloggin' to cure an insomniac.


Fall Harvest Bounty

You can smell the earth on them. This is the beauty of early fall vegetables, dirt still clinging to them as they lay in pretty rows across the tables at the market. This smell reminds me of the richness of a wet forest, when kicking up a layer of leaves reveals an even stronger scent. M was delighted to find pumpkins at the Dilner's stand, and of course we stocked up on root vegetables and greens at the One Woman Farm. Not shown are the red peppers and Honey Crisp apples we also found. Rumor has it that pumpkin curry is in our future.



We look surprisingly happy considering the way the Steelers played on Sunday. Of course having family and pizza and babies and Oakmont Bakery cookies around didn't hurt.


Good question...

I went to the midwife today and my cankles are nothing to worry about. My blood pressure is fine and no protein in my urine, so we just chalk it up to uncomfortable but harmless late third trimester water retention.

To answer the question, "cankles" are when your ankles and your calves blend into each other.

I went to yoga tonight and feel a lot better.